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It has been documented many times that mental health is the elephant in the room and that HR and others in the workplace ignore and stigmatise the issue.
I have found this to be the case, however I am seeing green shoots of change, which is encouraging. We need more please.
Suicide however remains locked very firmly out of the workplace agenda. Something that we feel the NHS is dealing with, something that’s uncomfortable to anticipate consider or even think about. Something that would never happen here!
Here's a fact: less than 20% of the 6,233 recorded suicides last year were people with any kind of mental health diagnosis.
Suicide is mainly working age people who seem OK and could be working next to you one day and not the next. It's very firmly a workplace/community issue.
Male suicide is increasing and 75% of all suicides are men ~ however I still don’t see male-dominated workplaces recognising this or appreciating the risk?
When working with HR/H&S professionals I see them educate and prepare themselves and their organisation for all kinds of physical and human crisis and risk. This is commendable and means that when reeling from the impact of the crisis the response is measured and appropriate with team members taking their specialist part (good plan).
So WHY do so many of these professionals cobble something together in a panicked and ill-considered insensitive way when news breaks of a death by suicide, or when a client or staff member “talks" about suicide?
I don’t have a problem with anyone being ignorant about workplace suicide (it’s a difficult challenging subject) or being ignorant about postvention activities in the aftermath of a workplace suicide or disclosure of suicidal thoughts.
I have a huge problem with people remaining ignorant - not anticipating this issue and having a postvention framework document ready to go.
So if you're reading this and you have a company postvention plan in the aftermath of an on- or offsite-suicide ready I commend you
If you and your team have considered activities in the immediate - acute phase - recovery phase and longer term I applaud you.
But if like a HR professional I spoke to this week you have nothing at all in place, don’t know where to start with containing the crisis, communicating to reduce the risk of contagion and comforting to promote healthy grieving, I suggest you think about getting this knowledge and talking in practical terms about this taboo topic …TODAY!